cilantro coconut chutney

cilantro coconut chutney

I have big and exciting news to share with you today;

1. We're moving to the Bay Area.
2. We got engaged! I can't believe, I get to marry my best friend and now we are on our way to start and share an exciting new chapter in our lives! We've known each other for six years, been through the ups and downs that life has to offer, laughed, argued, and cried together, traveled to places, and once narrowly escaped a bear on a hike. Yep, the usual things that all couples do, but above all we're happy and home is where the two of us are together.
3. Finally, I am also super excited to have my first post up at Food52 today where I talk about my love for this bright green chutney aka the Green Goddess, with so many fresh and bright flavors, it will surely brighten up your day. So head over to Food52 to get the recipe.

coconut chutney

spicy heirloom tomato relish and the giveaway winners

Spicy heirloom tomato relish

There's no better way to symbolize summer in a kitchen, than a bunch of colorful and mismatched heirloom tomatoes. They are vibrant with hot and radiant colors, it's as if the sun got absorbed into one big juicy ball of deliciousness. Whether eaten fresh or cooked their flavors are rich and as appealing as their looks. 

Beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes

These heirlooms turned out to be perfect in my spicy relish. I've been looking to create a hot relish for a while that would remind me of a good Indian pickle that would be hot and sour but mildly sweet. The cider and dash of brown sugar help to enhance the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and the heat of the chilies and spices. As with most Indian chutneys, pickles, and relishes, this tomato relish is fantastic with any meal.  Just a note of caution, whenever selecting tomatoes for canning, go with red or pale yellow tomatoes versus the greener ones as the greener varieties contain a toxic compound called solanin. Canning is a cooking process that concentrates flavors and compounds and using a large number of green tomatoes will increase the amount of solanin.  So please keep this in mind while preserving tomatoes by any concentration process.

Tomato

I could have peeled the tomatoes before cooking them but it just didn't feel right. I like the texture, it somehow makes the relish feel and taste even more "tomatoey" .If you want to get rid of the skin, then cut a cross or "X" mark at the bottom of each tomato, then dunk the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds and transfer the tomatoes into an ice-bath. Let them cool and the skin will come off easily when you peel. 

Heirloom tomatoes

The Siggi's dairy giveaway is over and I chose the entries randomly using Rafflecopter on July 17, 2013. The five lucky people in no random order are...

1. Holly H.
2. Tiffany G.
3. Matt W., and
4. Jason B. 
5. Sarah M.

By now you should have received an email from me and will have 48 hours to respond or I will select another winner. Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to the kind folks at Siggi's Dairy for sponsoring this fun and delicious giveaway! and the giveaway winners

Hot and spicy tomato relish


spicy heirloom tomato relish

yields: approximately 2 quarts

ingredients

10 lb heirloom tomatoes
2 cups vegetable oil (peanut)
1 tablespoon dried red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup red onions, finely chopped
3 thai chili peppers
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
kosher sea salt

1. Wash and wipe the tomatoes dry, remove the stalks if any and dice the tomatoes into large chunks. Discard any seeds. Keep the tomatoes aside.
2. In a coffee bean grinder, grind the chili flakes, fennel, coriander, and cumin to get a coarse powder. 
3. Heat the oil on a medium high flame in a large thick bottomed saucepan. As soon as the oil begins to smoke, add the ground spices and turmeric. Stir for 15 seconds and reduce the flame to a gentle simmer. If the spices begin to burn, discard the oil and begin again. 
4. Stir in the onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Trim the stalks off the chilies and slit them across their length. Add the chilies to the saucepan and cook for another 2 minutes with constant stirring. 
5. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan and increase the flame to a high. Add the vinegar and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the flame to a medium high. Stir constantly to avoid any burning. Continue to cook the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated and the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes. The mixture should turn into a thick paste. Taste and adjust the salt as necessary (You can also add a little vinegar to it, if you want to make it more sour). Remove the saucepan from the stove and transfer into 4 clean and sterile 500ml canning jars. Process for 15 minutes and store in a cool dry place. 

grilled shrimp with cilantro mint chutney

Grilled shrimp with Cilantro Mint Chutney


Summer surely is a perfect time to grill though I try to grill in any weather if possible. I find it as comforting as baking, each with its own charms and techniques that make them so unique and fun. I like to grill both outdoors and indoors and I like to grill everything possible. The flavors generally get much more complex and bolder making every meal delightful and tasty. This is really what comes to my mind when I hear the word "grilling" or "barbecuing". Deliciously exciting feelings cross my mind that involve the sizzling sounds of meat and vegetables hitting the hot grates of the grill while the smoky clouds rise from the searing food. This is probably why we grill so much in our home. I just really hate cleaning the grill, no love lost there! That is really the part I don't like to think about.

Cilantro mint chutney and veggies

I based this recipe on a very popular chutney that is used in India as a dipping sauce for appetizers such as samosas and even as a sandwich filling. If you spread a bit between two buttered slices of bread, it is delicious! The flavors of this chutney are fresh so make sure to use absolutely fresh cilantro and mint leaves. The chilies, ginger and lemon juice give the chutney its flavorful pungent jolt. Since, we had picked up some fresh jumbo shrimp from the D.C. I thought it might be perfect to marinate the shrimp in a little bit of the chutney. The other half of the chutney I refrigerated (it stays good for upto a week) in an airtight container, I used some of it as a dipping sauce with the rest of the grilled shrimp. Overall, this is a great fresh "herby" grilled shrimp recipe with tons of classic Indian flavors. I love serving these shrimp with fresh crispy salad vegetables, so feel free to add whatever you can find or love!
On a side note please make sure to use fresh shrimp and devein them.

Shrimp grilling

cilantro mint chutney

yields: about 1 1/2 -2 cups

ingredients

2 cups packed cilantro leaves, fresh
1 cup packed mint leaves, fresh
4 thai green chilis 
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh (about 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup water

In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients from the cilantro to the water to make a smooth chutney. Adjust the taste with additional salt and pepper if desired. Store the chutney in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

grilled shrimp 


yields: 6 servings 


ingredients

2 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large lemon, fresh

1. Pat the shrimp dry with a clean towel and add half of the cilantro mint chutney along with the olive oil. Mix and refrigerate in a covered container for at least 30 mins. 
2. Preheat a grill. Skewer the shrimp and grill them on the hot grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Baste as needed with the leftover marinade from the chutney. The shells at the tail end and the meat will turn a hot pink color when they are done cooking. Remove the skewers and immediately squeeze a little lemon juice from the lemon over the hot shrimp. Serve them on the skewers with the reserved chutney.

Note: I like to serve these shrimp straight off the grill on a bed of fresh crisp veggies such as radishes, sweet bell peppers and grape tomatoes. Cucumbers, carrots and lettuce are a great addition too. 

apple and carrot soup with cilantro-peanut chutney

carrot and apple soup

I started my holidays a little earlier than anticipated since we decided to finally take on our pending bathroom remodeling project and I'm relieved that it's finished. No more drilling and hammering noises and pesky dust issues!  Since, I've stayed at home for the bathroom project, I decided to finish up wrapping all the gifts that we need to take down with us on our trip this weekend. Honestly, I am not a big fan of wrapping gifts, sometimes I get them right and on other occasions, I simply don't. It would be much easier if there was a standard rectangular shape box for every gift versus all the other random shaped toy cartons that I have come across. 

carrots and apples

With all the hustle and bustle of the calorie loaded holidays parties, I've been opting for very simple, easy, and refreshing meals at home. This is one of my favorite recipes that I have grown to love and appreciate this year. This apple and carrot soup has all the fresh flavors of the season. The soup by itself is very delicious but it gets a pretty bold kick of heat from the Thai chili peppers in the crunchy peanut and cilantro chutney.

cilantro and apples

To give this pureed soup a silky and smooth texture, it is essential to simmer all the vegetables for at least 30 minutes. It does not matter how long you small you dice the apples and carrots because they will get soft and tender during the simmering stage. If you can't find black sea salt or "Kala Namak" (you can find it at most Indian grocery stores) then I would recommend using regular Kosher sea salt. You can thin the soup as much as you want to with water but don't forget to adjust the salt and pepper. While making the chutney, I like to use fresh lemon juice and I also leave the seeds inside the chilies. If you like the chutney less hot, then remove the seeds and only use the skin of the chilies. A little drop of the chutney goes along way in this soup. Another tip with the peanuts, I eliminated the need for using raw peanuts, since pre-salted and roasted peanuts are so easily available. The little crunch bits of peanuts in the chutney against the smooth silky soup makes for a wonderful and delicious texture. As an added bonus, the chutney can also be used as a dipping sauce.

carrots garlic and pot
onion

apple and carrot soup with cilantro-peanut chutney

yields: 4-6 servings

ingredients

for the apple and carrot soup

2 medium sized Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced 
2 lb carrots, peeled and diced 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
juice of half a lemon
ground black sea salt (or regular sea salt) to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the cilantro-peanut chutney

1 cup of fresh cilantro leaves 
2 tablespoons salted roasted peanuts
2 green thai chili peppers
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

for the apple and carrot soup

1. Heat the olive oil in a thick bottomed stock pot with a lid on a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes with constant stirring. The onions will become translucent and light pink in color. Now add the carrots and apples, stir for a minute and cover with a lid. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and bring it to boil. Once the water boils, reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and cook for another 30 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. Switch the flame off and let the contents cool for about 15 minutes.
2. Add the contents of the stockpot to a food processor and pulse until completely smooth. Add the pureed vegetables back to the stockpot. Add the rest of the water to the puree along with the cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Heat the soup on a medium flame and bring to a boil with constant stirring. Then reduce to a gentle simmer and keep warm until ready to serve.
Note: If you prefer the soup to be thinner, then add a little more water to it and accordingly adjust the salt and pepper.

for the cilantro-peanut chutney

1. Grind all the ingredients for the chutney to get a coarse paste. The peanuts should be coarsely ground.
2. Season with salt and pepper as per taste.

serving suggestion:
Top each bowl of soup with 1 teaspoon of the cilantro-peanut chutney.